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Middle Names First, Celebrity Style: Meet Troyal Garth Brooks & Hannah Dakota Fanning

October 13, 2014 Linda Rosenkrantz

By Linda Rosenkrantz

In case you don’t think the middle name choice is an important one, just take a look at the startling number of celebrities who have opted for using their middle names in lieu of the first name on their birth certificates! Some have dropped a ho-hum common in favor of a more dramatic middle, others, to avoid confusion, have shed a name shared with their parent.

To begin with, there have been five US Presidents who have made the first-middle name switch:

Famous Middle Names

Hiram Ulysses S. Grant—At 17, when entering West Point, his name was mistakenly written as Ulysses S. Grant and he apparently was happy to lose the HUG initials. The S was for his mother’s maiden name, Simpson.

Stephen Grover Cleveland—named Stephen in honor of the first pastor of his father’s church, but always called Grover

Thomas Woodrow WilsonWoodrow was his mother’s maiden name—he dropped Thomas after graduating from college

John Calvin Coolidge Jr—he named his children John Coolidge and Calvin Coolidge, Jr—covering all his bases

David Dwight Eisenhower—his father was also David, so his mother reversed the two names after his birth to avoid the confusion of having two Davids; the president’s grandson inherited the David name.

Some other older examples:

Eldred Gregory Peck—his father was Gregory Pearl—the actor definitely made the best pick of the lot

Samuel Dashiell HammettDashiell was his mother’s maiden name, he was known as Sam (as in his character Sam Spade) before he began writing under the Dashiell name (and then nicknamed Dash).

Pearl Zane Grey—born in Zanesville, Ohio, named for his great-grandfather, to a mother whose maiden name was Zane; he dropped the feminine Pearl early on

George Orson Welles—he was named after his great-uncle George Head and great-grandfather Orson H. Head; the future Citizen Kane-maker opted for the more distinctive name

Boys who dropped their Daddies’ names:

Charles Robert Redford, Jr

Christopher Chace Crawford

Daniel Jason Sudeikis

George Alexander Trebek

James Paul McCartney–the name was passed on to Paul‘s only son, making it a three-generation tradition

Michael Trent Reznor

Monroe Jackson Rathbone V—MJR II was the head of Standard Oil, MJR V is also related to Stonewall Jackson and Basil Rathbone

Troyal Garth Brooks

William Bradley Pitt (The two William Pitts shown in the illustration)

William Clark Gablehe was named after his father, but was called Clark—the maiden name of his maternal grandmother– even in childhood, as well as Clarkie, Billy and Gabe.

Other Boys

Allen Kelsey Grammer

Aubrey Drake Graham—the future rapper used the name Aubrey Graham when he acted in Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Christopher Ashton Kutcher

Clarke Issac Hansonusing middles as firsts is something of a Hanson family tradition (see Jordan Taylor). And Isaac carries on the convention with his sons Clarke Everett, called Everett, and James Monroe, called Monroe. Clarke is the name of the father of the clan.

David Jude Heyworth Lawthe Jude was for both Jude the Obscure and ‘Hey, Jude

James Hugh Calum Laurie

John William Ferrell

Jordan Taylor Hansonhis oldest child is named Jordan but, of course, called by his middle, Ezra.

Matthew Ryan Phillippe

Michael Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone

Milton French Stewarthe is the fourth generation of his family to wear the name French

Philip Anthony Hopkins

Thomas Jacob (Jack) Blacknamed his son Thomas David Black

Thomas Sean Conneryhe was called Sean as a lad when he had a close Irish friend and the pair became known as Seamus and Sean, though he was usually called Tommy. Thomas was his grandfather’s name.

Walter Bruce Willis

Girls

Audrey Faith Hill

Dorothy Faye Dunaway

Elizabeth Stamatina Fey—you have to wonder if she was ever called Liz

Elizabeth Tea Pantaleoni

Geetali Norah Jones Shankar—she changed her name to Norah Jones officially at the age of sixteen

Hannah Dakota Fanning

Katherine Mathilda (Tilda) Swinton

Kathryn Bridget Moynahan

Laura Jeanne Reese WitherspoonReese is her mother’s maiden

Lila Diane Sawyer

Mary Elle Fanning—followed in her sister Dakota’s name-changing footsteps

Mary Kathleen Turner

Mary Rose Byrne—these three are among many who have dropped the name Mary

Mayte Michelle RodriguezMayte is a variation of Maite, originally a contraction of Maria and Teresa, and currently Number 24 in Chile

Nicole Evangeline Lilly

Olive Marie Osmond—her mother is Olive May

Robyn Rihanna Fenry

 

 

 

 

 

 

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